Apple today issued its first ever conflict minerals report, a full breakdown of where it gets key materials that end up in its phones, tablets, and computers, but that can be mined in politically unstable countries. In it, the company says 21 of the 205 smelters it used in 2013 got those minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or adjoining countries, and that four of those had not been certified as conflict-free. Apple added that it commissioned its own audits of those four companies and "found no reasonable basis" that they were financing armed groups.
Disclosures are now federal law
The report comes just days ahead of a June 2nd deadline for US companies to disclose whether or not their products include materials that were sourced from the DRC or neighboring areas. The move is meant to put pressure on companies and governments to crack down on conflict minerals, but it's also drawn controversy for threatening companies to pull their business from those regions entirely.
Apple published a separate supplier responsibility report back in February that provided what it said was a full list of its suppliers, complete with whether they were certified to be conflict-free. The company also said its supply of tantalum, which is used to create capacitors, was entirely conflict-free. Before that, Apple says it began investigating the tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold used in its products starting in 2009.
Apple is not alone in publishing this information. Intel, HP, and a host of other companies that have issued reports on compliance, and put conflict-free designations on their products. Back in January, Intel said all the microprocessors it shipped this year would be conflict mineral free. In 2013, HP issued a full list of 195 smelters the company used in its supply chain, something aimed to put pressure on those who hadn't yet been reviewed.